India in Australia 2015-16 January 13, 2016

Khawaja keen to establish white-ball credentials

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'Matador Cup form worked in my favour' - Khawaja

At a time when Australia's ODI fast-bowling depth is being tested, they seem to have no shortage of quality batsmen to call on. Centuries to George Bailey and Steven Smith won Australia the first ODI against India in Perth on Tuesday, and for the second game they will likely bring in a bloke with a List A batting average of 72.86 in the past three years. And one of the most in-form batsmen in the country probably still won't get a game.

The former is Shaun Marsh, the back-up batsman in the squad and the likely beneficiary of David Warner's absence for paternity leave over the next two games. The latter is Usman Khawaja, who is joining the squad for the Brisbane and Melbourne ODIs, and is enjoying a remarkable run of form whatever the colour of the ball: not since October has Khawaja been dismissed below 50 in any format.

Yet it is hard to argue with the probable batting line-up Australia will use in Brisbane, where Marsh is expected to open with Aaron Finch. After all, Marsh was second only to Smith on the Matador Cup run tally in October, with 390 at 65.00, and the last time he played for Australia he plundered 182 in the Hobart Test against West Indies. Khawaja's return from injury bumped Marsh from the Test side; now Marsh looks set to keep Khawaja out of the ODIs.

It is nearly three years since Khawaja last played ODI cricket for Australia, and even then he played only three games without reaching double figures. However, since his most recent ODI appearance Khawaja has thrived in one-day cricket, averaging 56.88 in List A matches, although he played only three Matador Cup games this summer due to a hamstring injury. Khawaja hopes his selection is the first step towards becoming an ODI regular.

"The hunger is to play as many forms of the game as possible," he said on Wednesday. "I've made it clear that I've always wanted to play one-dayers. But sometimes it's about timing. If I'm going to get my opportunity, I don't know, but when I do get it hopefully I can take it and be more than just a Test cricketer. At this moment I'm really happy with how I'm hitting the white ball."

Already 2015-16 has been a breakout summer for Khawaja in the Test team - he scored centuries in all three Tests in which he batted, in Brisbane, Perth, and Melbourne. His last two BBL innings, an unbeaten 109 before Christmas and 62 on Monday, suggest his white-ball form is indeed strong.

"I'm really happy with how the Test stuff went," Khawaja said. "There's a lot of one-day cricket coming up in the next year. I'd love to be a part of it. Hopefully I can contribute moving forward."

However, Khawaja knows he will likely be warming the bench for the second ODI in Brisbane on Friday. "I haven't been told anything," he said. "I'm just using common sense - SOS [Marsh] is already there so I'd assume he'd slot into Davey's spot and I'll be the spare batsman. That's what I'm expecting."

Australia will be aiming to secure a 2-0 lead in the five-match series in Brisbane, after their win in the high-scoring opener in Perth on Tuesday. India managed 3 for 309 against a new-look Australia attack featuring debutant fast bowlers Scott Boland and Joel Paris, whose combined figures read 0 for 127 from 18 overs, but Australia's batsmen chased down the target with four balls to spare.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bobagorof on January 15, 2016, 1:20 GMT

    @victortrumpet: Shaun Marsh's IPL results shouldn't come into consideration when choosing an ODI side in Australia. Having said that, I think he can be considered a little unlucky that he hasn't played more ODI cricket - like Callum Ferguson, he has a good record but there are only so many spots in the side.

  • hycIass on January 15, 2016, 0:09 GMT

    Khawaja is a champion, great example to the sub continent community in Australia

  • Paul_Rampley on January 14, 2016, 6:30 GMT

    Can't wait to see Khawaja Fire as he is in great form and a long term star for us

  • victortrumpet on January 14, 2016, 5:29 GMT

    Gotta bring Richardson and Hastings in for Paris and Boland...and Khawaja and Marsh for Warner and MMarsh. Reason for the extra batsmen is Oz were one DRS appeal away from being 3/24 in Perth and Faulkner and Maxwell are like Warner and Finch - a bit hit and miss, or hit and giggle....also been disappointed with Faulkner's bowling for some time. People criticizing SMarsh don't know what time it is. His ODI average is better than Warner and Finch, he held the second highest average in the recent domestic ODI tournament and second highest average in BBL. He has the best average of any Australian in the IPL batting predominantly against bowlers who are in the Indian team. Using logic his selection is a no brainer.

  • abdul.wahid on January 14, 2016, 5:10 GMT

    I reckon this is a lose-lose situation for Khawaja here, if he doesn't get a spot in the GABBA ODI, then let him stay with Thunder! Better to score some runs for his Big Bash team then to carry drinks and warm the bench at Brisbane. Aside from that, I still think Khawaja is a much better option to play in the next ODI: he's been in red-hot form in all formats of the game, whereas Shaun Marsh is kind of the in-and-out player of the team (one tour he is in, then dropped, then picked again). However, both of them are good players. So I reckon that someone might be brought out of the team to make space for the 2 of them. Aaron Finch didn't look that appealing last game, so in my opinion they should rest him and bring in 2 fresh openers: Khawaja and Marsh. On the bowling side, Australia need a spinner in their team (Lyon?). The debutants bowled well. Boland had some top-class Yorkers and Paris had a lot of variation. Ultimately, it all depends on the management and what team they play(TLDR)

  • cricfan19105975 on January 14, 2016, 3:39 GMT

    @SERIOUS-AM-I.. you r making sense! Oly very few bowlers went fr County.. zak.. He had a good tym in English County.. likewise other bowlers shud also be sent there and learn how to take wkts rather than bowling their full quota without taking wkts or troubling batsmen!

  • serious-am-i on January 14, 2016, 1:18 GMT

    Current Indians bowling attack is a fodder for any new batsman, if you're looking to establish yourself or if you're struggling with your form, look no further than playing against Indian bowling, all your problems are solved.

    On a serious note its really a shame that BCCI thinks only about money making & not helping out bring out the best talent to the fore. Earlier, players used to pay in the County & had experience in bowling in different conditions, now everyone's stuck in the dusty bowls, outside India they're horrible, as they're clueless on where to bowl & how to bowl. Only few players, that too who missed IPL only went to county. If India has to find an answer to their bowling issues, BCCI must take initiatives & let the bowlers go to county, Aus to play around. They could gain more knowledge & experience in different conditions even if they're bench warming over there. Even spinners should be sent, as they seem clueless outside India.

  • millsy24 on January 13, 2016, 23:16 GMT

    I am one who picks on Shaun Marsh a lot but in short form cricket he is very good. He will play ahead of Khawaja as he is in the squad and the Thunder miss out on a much needed player in a vital game.

  • Shaggy076 on January 13, 2016, 22:04 GMT

    No need for an extra batsman - 5 main bowling options and Maxwell gives you more flexiility in these high scoring games. All batsman are worthy of a spot but if played together would be under utilised and we would be scratching for some extra overs. So given the selection of the original squad S Marsh should replace Warner, Hastings for M Marsh and Richardson for Boland or Paris.

  • HDG1978 on January 13, 2016, 17:58 GMT

    Surprised not to see Cummins in the Aussie side with Hastings likely to play.Is Cummins unfit? It seems Watson's retirement from Tests almost means the end of his international career as he is not in the scheme of things even when Mitchell Marsh is unlikely to play in Brisbane.With no Raina and Mohit,India's ODI line-up has a refreshingly new look with Sran doing well and Rishi Dhawan and Hardik Pandya likely to play for India soon.

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